Atheists and secular humanists are at the forefront of the Old Age Universe chronology. The teaching in most secular institutions encourages every H.S. and university student in the country to abandon any faith in the Bible and accept our status as advanced apes. Some instructors approach their destruction of biblical faith with a zeal that would be the envy of many missionaries. But which comes first, the atheism or the scientific conclusions? I believe the spiritual assumptions predate and often dictate the scientific opinions.
If one has questions about the Bible that are not easily explained or understood in human terms, it can sometimes cause people to abandon their faith. But then a major question looms. By abandoning your faith, or by rejecting the Bible, do you somehow find the answer to your questions? Many modern secular atheists are firmly convinced that they must reject Christianity, and God, and the Bible because they cannot explain, for instance, suffering, or miracles, or “where God came from”.
But is it sensible when atheists say that because there is suffering in the world, they cannot believe in God? They opine that if God is good He cannot be omnipotent and if He is omnipotent He cannot be good. “I can’t believe in the God of the Bible because there is suffering in the world.” OK. Now you don’t believe in the God of the Bible because of suffering. Do you now have an adequate explanation for why there is suffering in the world? Does atheism or humanism provide adequate explanation? Does the world become fair, or just, or does suffering depart with your rejection of the Supreme Being? Or is it possible that suffering is here precisely to point us back to God?
If God is both good and omnipotent, and He allows suffering, or if it is a part of His creation, then in some manner or form it must work to the good. In other words, without suffering, some particular good that might occur, cannot occur. In fact you can say that there must be a form of goodness or a benefit to humanity that is so great that it outweighs all the suffering, or else either the omnipotence or the goodness of God is in question.
This is not so difficult to accept for the believer. Christians have been raised on the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV) Joni Eareckson Tada, for instance, after 50 years of physical suffering from a broken neck and quadriplegia, can still travel and lecture and inspire millions with her faith and her undying affection for her Lord. She says, “And rather than try to frantically escape the pain, I relearned the timeless lesson of allowing my suffering to push me deeper into the arms of Jesus. I like to think of my pain as a sheepdog that keeps snapping at my heels to drive me down the road to Calvary, where, otherwise, I would not be naturally inclined to go.”(1) She can see in her own life and suffering, a lesson for herself and others that is of great eternal benefit. But suffering may still be a major stumbling block to many nonbelievers.
C S Lewis had a great deal to say on the subject of pain and suffering. First, he noted that humanity can often be not just tone deaf, but almost totally and completely insensate to many of our greatest spiritual needs, and sometimes God uses pain or suffering to get our attention. “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
You see, if you accept our physical bodies as a starting point, many spiritual things are not only confusing, but seemingly nonsensical. From the perspective of humanity (the flesh) God is there to serve us, not the other way around. Or as Lewis put it, “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.” (Lewis, The Problem of Pain) This means pain and suffering are viewed as an enemy to be avoided, rather than a possible teacher to bring us to the truth.
But if we accept the possibility that we are primarily spiritual beings, temporarily housed in a physical shell, then we may obtain an entirely different view of suffering. Suffering may be the absolute necessity, the greatest of benefits, the most instructive teacher, if it leads us to a higher spiritual understanding. In fact, it may be such an essential thing that we could not even be fully human without it! “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself” (Lewis) So we see that pain and suffering do not in any but the most superficial way exclude God, or his omnipotence, or his love, or his goodness.
But what of other objections to the Bible? Many persons, atheists and non-Christians alike, object to Jesus statements indicating that He is the only way to Heaven. In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is quite objectionable to the secular humanist or, for example, to the believer in Mohammed. But objectionable or not, the point remains, either it is true or it is false. It is not a thing to be treated lightly, or ignored. It is a thing of eternal implications. Jesus existence is either a fact or it is not. His place above all creation as the Son of God is either Truth or falsehood. But one’s objection to it is not really even relevant to the Creation/Evolution or Big Bang argument. So when a secular humanist or atheist tells you they prefer the Big Bang over creation as an explanation of origins, because they don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, or that there is a God at all, you may wish to ask how that might be relevant to the conversation.
The ultimate fact is that we cannot escape the concept, the reality, or the consequences of faith. Faith exists. Choice exists. Reality exists. The only question is what we choose to have faith in. Faith in the Big bang leads to one particular set of consequences, both for the individual and for society. Faith in Christ leads to an entirely different set of consequences. Choose carefully.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Romans 1:20 NLT Ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God
(2) C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 1940, Harper Collins, NY. NY
(For more see prior blog on “Who are you going to trust”)